Firefighter calls mayday while battling fire & autistic man. Both became trapped in Knoxville, TN home.

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Knoxville, Tennessee Firefighter Chris Medley called a mayday after his helmet and facepiece were knocked off by a 25-year-old autistic man he was trying to rescue during a house fire Friday morning. According to Knoxville Fire Department Captain DJ Corcoran, both men became trapped in the bedroom of the burning home in the 3900 block of Deerfield Road in Northwest Knoxville.

(Note: In the story above the reporter’s narration inadvertantly makes it sound as if the firefighter is also autistic. That is not the case.)


Corcoran said that Medley went through the front door of the burning home, up the stairs, and found the victim in a back bedroom. Corcoran said the victim became “combative with the firefighter (Medley). He knocked the firefighter’s mask and helmet off” during the struggle. The advancing fire trapped the men, and Medley had to issue a “mayday” call for help.

Engine 17’s captain led other firefighters in the attack to fight the fire back enough so that Medley and the victim could escape. Both Medley and the victim suffered burns and smoke inhalation.

The victim has been transferred to Vanderbilt Medical Center to be treated for 2nd and 3rd degree burns to 15% of his body. Medley suffered minor burns to his neck and ears. He remains at UT Medical Center, is alert and in stable condition, and is expected to be released in a day or so.